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MOUNT VERNON – Mount Vernon Nazarene University held its 59th undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday and the consistent themes of the graduation were faith, family and accomplishment.
Throughout the event, many of the speakers talked about either faith or a sense of family that they had experienced either as students themselves or as faculty during the past year. The 248 undergraduate students of the Class of 2019 then walked across the stage – each of them receiving rousing rounds of applause as they received their degrees.
After the graduates walked the stage, Director of Alumni Relations Travis Keller, a 2002 MVNU alum himself, shared some of his experiences from when he was a student.
Keller told the story of his graduation, when he became emotional after realizing his time as a student at MVNU was over.
“In May 2002, I left this building, walked out those doors, finally earning my degree, but deeply saddened as well, that this experience had come to an end,” Keller said in his speech. “I went outside and held myself together for a little while, while taking some photos and visiting with some family. But then I completely fell apart when saying good-bye and embracing the very best friends that I had ever made in all of my life.”
Keller then explained that the sense of family and accomplishment from his years as a student caught up to him as he was leaving.
“I packed a few of my things and got in my car and started driving — leaving campus — and I had to pull over because of the tears that had started outside the chapel had turned into uncontrollable, blinding, spastic weeping.”
Also in his speech, he said that he and other graduates who he knew wanted to return to MVNU because of the family dynamic — just like he did.
“(The graduates) nearly all shared the same sentiment about MVNU. We all deeply miss moments like this. The moments when we’re together. Whether it’s in class, here in chapel, at a sporting event, a concert, a play or a mission trip. All of those shared moments are the ones worth remembering. So look around. Look around and remember this place. Remember the faces of the faculty and administrators on this platform.”
Several people received awards at the end of the graduation ceremony, including faculty member Assistant Professor of Psychology Carla Swallow, who was presented with the 2018-2019 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Both faculty and students voted for the award and then Swallow, who is also a MVNU graduate, received a thunderous ovation when her name was announced.
Two graduates received the Service Above Self Awards, which are given annually to seniors who demonstrate leadership in academic and extra-curricular activities and exemplify service to the university, church and community.
Bailey Phillips, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Pastoral Ministry, won the female Service Above Self Award and Guillermo Morales, who earned a degree in Youth Ministries, was the male recipient.
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